Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, “O Madhūsudana, what is the name of the Ekādaśī that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Āśvina [September-October]? Please be merciful and tell this to me.”
The Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, replied, “O king, please listen as I explain the glories of this Ekādaśī–Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī–which removes all sins. On this day one should worship the Deity of Padmanābha, the lotus-naveled Lord, according to the rules and regulations. By doing so, one achieves whatever heavenly pleasures he wants in this world and at last attains liberation. Simply by offering one’s humble obeisances unto Lord Viṣṇu, the rider of Garuḍa, once can achieve the same merit as is won by performing great penances for a long time with completely controlled senses. Although a person might have committed unlimited sins, he can still escape hell just by paying his obeisances to Lord Hari, who removes all sins.
“The merits gained by going on pilgrimage to tīrthas of this earthly planet can also be achieved simply by chanting the holy names of Lord Viṣṇu. ‘ Whoever chants these sacred names–such as Rama, Viṣṇu, Janārdana, or Kṛṣṇa–especially on Ekādaśī, never sees Yamarāja’s abode. Nor does one who fasts on Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī, which is so dear to Me, see that abode.
“Both the Vaiṣṇava who criticizes Lord Śiva and the Śaivite who criticizes Me certainly go to hell. The merit obtained by performing one thousand horse sacrifices and one hundred Rājasūya sacrifices is not equal to even one sixteenth of the merit a person obtains by fasting on Ekādaśī. There is no higher merit one can achieve than that attained by fasting on Ekādaśī. Indeed, nothing in all the three worlds is as pleasing or as able to purify one of sin as Ekādaśī, the day of the lotus-naveled Lord, Padmanābha.
“O king, until a person observes a fast on the day of Lord Padmanābha named Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī, he remains sinful, and the reactions of his past sinful deeds never leave him. There is no merit in all the three worlds that can match the merit one attains by observing a fast on this Ekādaśī. Whoever observes it faithfully never has to see death personified, Lord Yamarāja. One who desires liberation, heaven, good health, beautiful women, wealth, and food grains should simply fast on this Ekādaśī. O King, neither the Ganges, Gayā, Kāśī, nor Puṣkara, nor even the holy site of Kurukṣetra, can grant as much merit as Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī.
“O Yudhiṣṭhira, protector of the earth, after observing Ekādaśī during the daytime, the devotee should remain awake through the night, for by doing so he easily attains to the abode of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Viṣṇu. Ten generations of ancestors on his mother’s side, ten generations on his father’s side, and ten generations on his wife’s side are all liberated by a single observance of a fast on this Ekādaśī. All these ancestors attain their original, four-armed, transcendental forms. Wearing yellow garments and beautiful garlands, they ride to the spiritual world on the back of Garuḍa, the enemy of the snakes. This is the benediction My devotee earns simply by observing one Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī properly.
“O best of kings, whether one is a child, a youth, or an old person, fasting on Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī frees him of sins and makes him immune to suffering a hellish rebirth. Whoever observes a fast on this Ekādaśī becomes free of all his sins and returns to the abode of Lord Hari. Whoever donates gold, sesame seeds, fertile land, cows, grain, drinking water, an umbrella, or a pair of shoes on this most holy day will never have to visit the abode of Yamarāja, who always punishes sinners. But if a resident of earth fails to perform spiritual deeds, especially the observance of a fast on holy days such as Ekādaśī, his breathing is said to be no better than the puffing of a blacksmith’s bellows.
“O best of kings, especially on Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī, even the poor should first bathe and then give some charity and perform other auspicious activities according to their ability.
“Whoever performs sacrifices or builds public ponds, resting places, gardens, or houses does not suffer the punishments of Yamarāja. Indeed, one should understand that a person must have performed such pious activities as these in his past life if he is long-lived, wealthy, of high birth, or free from all diseases. But a person who observes Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī goes to the abode of the Supreme Lord.”
Lord Kṛṣṇa concluded, “Thus, O saintly Yudhiṣṭhira, I have narrated to you the glories of Pāpāṅkuśā Ekādaśī. Please question me further if you wish to hear more about Ekādaśī.”
[Ekādaśī, The Day of Lord Hari, by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Balarām Swāmījī, KBS0111]